DESSERTS

torticas de moron - cuban Christmas cookies

Torticas de Moron Are Melt In Your Mouth Delicious!

Torticas de Moron are a wonderful Cuban shortbread cookie that’s simple to make and so delicious! The shortening makes this cookie perfectly crumbly and once you bite into it just melts in your mouth. And it’s made even more irresistible with a dollop of guava paste!

For years I’d seen these cookies displayed at local Cuban bakeries, but I was never tempted to try them. They were usually huge and topped with sprinkles. It looked like a big old sugar cookie, and they just couldn’t compete with the pastelitos made with puff pastry and guava. But then a family friend made a batch, and I tasted a homemade version of these torticas de moron … wow, what a difference! 

torticas de moron

These Torticas de Moron Taste Like Old Cuba

These cookies are delicate and taste very old world… at least very Old Cuba! This is an old-time cookie named after the town of Moron, where it was first made. 

Torticas de moron have just a few ingredients: shortening, flour, sugar, and lemon rind. I like to add a little bit of butter to mine, but just a little. These Cuban cookies also have a little sprinkling of sugar crystals to give them a slight crunch and extra sweetness.

I’ve seen different versions of this cookie running around the internet (this cookie gets around!). Some recipes use all butter (no shortening), vanilla, eggs, and even baking powder, but the original recipe doesn’t have all of that. I taste-tested this recipe with my favorite Cuban folks and they said this recipe tasted like the torticas de moron they grew up eating.

torticas de moron

Look Ma! No Vanilla, Butter, Or Eggs!

What makes this cookie so crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth good is the shortening and the lack of moisture and leavening. Otherwise, it’s just a sugar cookie, not to say there’s anything wrong with that. I love those too! But torticas de moron are different. 

Instead of vanilla, this cookie has a bit of citrus for flavoring. The original recipe used lime rind, but I like it better with lemon rind. Cubans use lime for everything. Some folks make it without adding the citrus. My mom likes it better that way, but she was outvoted 😛

I already mentioned this Cuban cookie is crumbly, and this means that the dough is too. I beat the sugar, shortening, and butter together and then added the flour and the lemon rind. The dough looks very crumbly and needs a little bit of kneading to come together, and even then, it’s not very elastic. Just shape it with your hands into a rough rectangle and then roll until it’s a quarter-inch thick. You can cut with a biscuit cutter or with the glass. You’ll notice the photos show some with a fancy crinkle cut on the edge and some are plain, either way it’s pretty delicious!

Sprinkle a little sugar on these before baking. If it’s Christmas time, you can use colored sugar. But most times I just use white sugar crystals for a little sparkle and sweetness!

Although they may not look it, these cookies are delicate and should be cooled on the cookie sheet for a minute or two before moving them to a cooling rack. If you try to move them when they’re hot, they could break, and then you’ll have to eat the crumbs to hide the evidence. Not a bad problem to have… but they are so much prettier when you’re patient. 😇

torticas de moron

Kick It Up A Notch With Guava

These cookies are good on their own… but they are even better with guava. The sweetness of the guava and the slight tang of lemon go so well together! Just add a dollop of guava to the baked cookie after it’s cooled. I also sprinkle a little finishing salt because I like the salt and sweet together. If you don’t have finishing salt, you can use kosher salt.

You can buy a can of guava marmalade at the store, but I like to make my own. This way, the guava is a little thicker. But don’t stress it, the canned marmalade would be fine. You just have to store with a little more care so you don’t mess up the guava. Or, store without the guava and just add a dollop when you’re serving.

I also add a touch of orange liquor to the guava. Oh, it’s soooo good that way! I used Cointreau in mine, but Grand Marnier would also work. 

torticas de moron

Dress These Cuban Cookies For Christmas!

Make these torticas de moron for Christmas and add colored sugar crystals on top. You can also add a maraschino cherry to the center when you bake it. It’s very Christmas-y and makes great gifts for neighbors. 

Love guava? You’ve got to try my Cuban guava bars called masa real (royal dough), they are addicting!

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torticas de moron

Torticas de Moron Are Melt In Your Mouth Delicious!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 20
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 28 cookies 1x
  • Category: Cookies
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Torticas de Moron are a  Cuban shortbread cookie that’s perfectly crumbly and just melts in your mouth. Try it with a dollop of guava paste!


Ingredients

Scale

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar

1 cup vegetable shortening

¼ cup butter

1 teaspoon lemon rind

Optional Garnishes:

Sugar crystals or colored sugar.

7 ounces guava marmalade (you can buy it canned or make your own)

Finishing salt or kosher salt (to sprinkle on the dollop of guava paste)

Marachino cherries

Optional Guava Marmalade

7 ounces guava paste affiliate link

1 teaspoon Cointreau or other orange liqueur (add more if you prefer a more intense flavor)

5 tablespoons water


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Prep:

Grate 1 teaspoon of lemon rind.

Cream the sugar, shortening and butter until smooth. Add the lemon rind and beat for 30 more seconds.

Mix two cups of flour until combined, using a wooden spoon or spatula. Add the last cup of flour and mix until you have a crumbly mixture.

Dump the crumbly dough onto a floured surface.

Knead until the dough comes together. Divide the dough in half and shape each one into a flat disc.

Roll each disc until it’s 1/4 inch thick and cut with a biscuit cutter or a glass. Roll the leftover dough and repeat the process until you’ve used up all the dough. As you cut the cookies, place them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

Sprinkle the shaped cookies with sugar crystals.

Optional Topping: If you’re using the maraschino cherries, add half a cherry to each cookie. You can use both the sugar and the cherries to decorate.

Bake: Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly golden (mine took 18 minutes). Remove from oven.

Cool on baking sheet for about a minute. Then transfer them to a cooling rack. Be careful with these, because they can break easily. That’s why I don’t remove them from the baking sheet right away like I do with most cookies. 

Guava Paste:

Cube 7 ounces of guava paste affiliate link and add to a pan set on medium low heat. Add 5 tablespoons of water and a teaspoon of Cointreau. Cook until the guava is melted and spreadable. 

Guava Garnish:

Place a dollop of guava on each cooled cookie and sprinkle with finishing salt.


Keywords: Torticas de Moron, cuban cookies, guava cookies, cuban shortbread cookies, shortbread cookies, christmas cookies, cuban christmas cookies

Coconut Balls - Cuban Cookies - Coquito

Coconut Balls Are Quick, Easy and So Adorable!

These coconut cuties are such a Cuban treat. First of all, we LOVE coconut, so of course, we would make these. They are called coquito in Spanish (little coconut). Puerto Ricans also have a sweet treat called coquito, but in their case, it’s a holiday egg nog made with coconut milk… also great and worthy of its own post. But for today, let’s discuss these super quick and easy coconut balls. 

3-Ingredient Coconut Balls 

Don’t you just love when a cookie is so easy, carefree, and gorgeous? These coconut balls are just three ingredients: shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla. And you don’t even need a mixer! Just mix the three ingredients with a spoon or hands (hands are the best kitchen tool ever!). Then roll into a ball and bake them for about 15 minutes or until golden… and you’re done. Let them cool before you handle, though. If you move them while they’re warm, they are likely to fall apart, and then you’ll have to eat the crumbs. Well, maybe move one or two! 😉

Let me just say a quick word about sweetened condensed milk here because it’s a staple in every Cuban kitchen. We use it in lots of Cuban desserts like caramel flan, drizzle it on churros or eat a spoonful to satisfy a sweet tooth. Don’t judge. 

Let’s Play Dress-Up With These Coconut Balls!

These coconut balls are good without any makeup. If you’re a coconut fan, you’ll love them just as they are. But if you’re a Mounds fan, you’ll love them dipped in chocolate with a little coconut sprinkle. Or, for the Almond Joy nuts out there, sprinkle some chopped almonds. Oh, yea! 

To make the chocolate easy to work with, I suggest you buy chocolate wafers that have already been tempered. I used Ghirardelli dark chocolate wafers, and it was easy to melt, hardened quickly, and looked glossy. 

These cookies make for a great holiday gift for teachers, co-workers, or neighbors. I like to make them for my hubby because he’s cuckoo for coconuts (ugh, that’s a seventies Cocoa Puffs commercial reference you probably won’t get!).

Anyways try these adorable little coconut balls and share your creations in the comments. I’d love to see how they turn out! 

https://beantrain.com/christmas-recipes/
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Chocolate Coconut Balls

Coconut Balls Are A Delicious Cuban Sweet Treat

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 17
  • Total Time: 32 minutes
  • Yield: 28 1x
  • Category: cookies
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

I love how quick and easy these coconut balls are to make. You need just three ingredients: shredded coconut, sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. And you don’t even need a mixer. Just mix the coconut, milk and vanilla and shape into balls.


Ingredients

Scale

14 ounces shredded unsweetened coconut (see note)

1 can sweetened condensed milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Optional:

5 ounces dark chocolate melting wafers (I used Ghirardelli)

½ cup chopped, toasted almonds

½ cup shredded coconut


Instructions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

  • Add the finely shredded coconut, can of condensed milk and vanilla in a bowl and mix until well blended.
  • Take a heaping tablespoon (I used a 1 ½ tablespoon scoop) and shape into a ball. If your hands get sticky, just dip in a bowl of water, it makes the work less sticky.
  • Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until golden. (Time may vary based on your oven and the size of the coconut balls.)

Optional Decoration:

  • Melt 5 ounces of melting wafers in a small bowl. Place the almonds and/or the coconut flakes in separate bowls. Once the cookies have completely cooled, dip the top in chocolate and then dip in the coconut or chocolate. If you want to add just a little bit of the coconut or almonds, just sprinkle a few on top of the melted chocolate instead.
  • Place in the refrigerator until the chocolate is hardened.
  • These coconut balls are super easy to make! They take very little time and effort and are great for a holiday party table or holiday gifts.

Notes

Use a finely shredded unsweetened coconut. If you can’t find it, just pulse the coconut shreds in a food processor until it’s finely shredded.

Calories do not include the chocolate or the toppings.

Keywords: coconut balls, chocolate coconut balls, 3 ingredient coconut balls, Coconut balls condensed milk

pumpkin flan

Pumpkin Flan Is Such An Easy Fall Dessert!

Pumpkin flan combines the creamy, lusciousness of caramel flan with the earthy goodness of pumpkin for the perfect fall dessert. This flan is super easy to make and looks very impressive, especially if you add a little caramel decoration to it. I also found some super cute chocolate pumpkins for a little extra drama. 

While our love affair with pumpkins has deepened in recent years, especially with the advent of the pumpkin spice latte, Cubans have been making this pumpkin flan since way before PSL was even a thing. I remember my mom making this flan when I was eight, and I loved it way back then. It’s so creamy and pumpkiny, you’re tastebuds will thank me!

pumpkin flan

Fresh Pumpkin Mash

I tried different combinations of ingredients, and in the end, I settled on Mami’s version, which uses a caramel flan recipe with one and half cups of fresh pumpkin mash. I like this version best because the end result is a Cuban dessert that is luscious, creamy, and beautiful to look at. 

Caramel flan is super easy to make and has just five ingredients that turn out a spectacular Cuban dessert with a decadent caramel sauce. The ingredients include sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, vanilla and eggs. This pumpkin flan also has caramel sauce AND a great pumpkin flavor. 

Although fresh pumpkin adds a bit of work to the process, I liked it better than using canned pumpkin because it gives the flan a silky, light flavor and beautifully creamy color.

If you want to save a little time, you can use the canned pumpkin. Your flan will have a deeper color and a more robust pumpkin pie flavor, especially if you add a teaspoon of cinnamon to the mix. But I gotta tell you I didn’t like this as much. The flan came out too dark and too much like pumpkin pie. I wanted it to taste more like flan. 

pumpkin flan
Pumpkin Flan With Canned Pumpkin

Pumpkin Flan Is Not Like Pumpkin Pie

I feel like I have to say this right off the bat because I struggled with this issue. To be honest, I hadn’t had pumpkin flan in years. I’d never made it myself, and Mami (aka Beantrain) hadn’t made it in quite a while, although I’d been pestering her for one.

So, the pumpkin dessert my tastebuds were familiar with was pumpkin pie, which has a deep, rich, and spicy pumpkin flavor. I expected that flavor with a little extra lusciousness thrown in, but it was not like that. Flan has a more delicate taste and color.

pumpkin flan
Pumpkin Flan Made With Fresh Pumpkin

At first, I wanted my flan to have a more robust pumpkin flavor laced with pumpkin spice. But I changed my mind after trying different variations. I found out that the closer I moved to the pumpkin pie flavor, the less it looked and tasted like flan. The color was much darker and the texture was not as smooth and creamy. So, I’m gonna let flan be flan and not put it through an identity crisis.

fresh pumpkin mash

How To Make Pumpkin Flan

Flan is baked in a water bath known as the Bain Marie method. You place the flan in a roasting pan and fill the roasting pan with water. You can also make the flan in a pressure cooker or Instant Pot using a special flan mold. You still have to add the water, but it’s a bit quicker and easier than baking. However, I couldn’t do this with the pumpkin flan. 

The reason for this is that the pumpkin adds more volume to the recipe, so the mix is too much for the flan mold (the molds have to be small enough to fit inside the pressure cooker). I tried anyway. I filled the mold to the top, put on the lid, and set it in the pressure cooker. The flan didn’t have enough room to cook and spilled out and became a watery mess. However Mami’s flan mold is a little bigger the oven.

This way, you can use any mold you like. You can use the flan mold, a cake pan, a pie plate or ramekins. I did not make mine in ramekins, but if you go this route, you’ll likely need 12 ramekins. Also, keep in mind that different mold sizes could impact the cooking time. 

pumpkin flan

Caramel Decorations

This pumpkin flan has a delicious caramel sauce that’s just cooked sugar. As you heat up the sugar, it forms a thick syrup that quickly hardens. This caramel sauce is used to coat the flan mold before you add the flan mix. As the flan bakes, some of the caramel dissolves and becomes a fantastic caramel sauce. This is what makes flan so amazing!

I use about a cup of sugar for the pumpkin flan. But you can use a little extra sugar and create some decorative swirls with the hardening caramel that you can use as decoration. I even made a little basket to hold my chocolate pumpkins!

Looking to make a different pumpkin dessert for Thanksgiving? Give this pumpkin flan a try! Also, when you’re not in the pumpkin mode (is that even possible?) try my caramel flan, it’s the #1 Cuban dessert 🥰🍮

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pumpkin flan

Pumpkin Flan Is Such An Easy Fall Dessert!

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 120 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

Pumpkin flan combines the creamy, lusciousness of caramel flan with fresh pumpkin for the perfect fall dessert!


Ingredients

Scale

1 pound fresh pumpkin to make 1 1/2 cups pumpkin mash ** See note

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)

5 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar


Instructions

Make the Pumpkin Mash:

If you’re using fresh pumpkin, peel and cut the pumpkin into one-inch chunks. The pumpkin skin is hard to peel, but it’s easier to peel if you cut the pumpkin into strips first. Boil until fork tender and mash, about 15 minutes.

CARAMEL

Make the caramel: While the pumpkin is cooking, prepare the caramel. 

  • Place 1 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan on medium high heat. Cook until sugar melts and has a deep amber color. You can swirl the pan to help the sugar dissolve, but don’t stir it. This should take about 12-14 minutes. 
  • Pour the caramel into the flan mold and swirl the mold a bit to get it up the sides a little. You need to work fast because the caramel hardens quickly, BUT be very careful not to spill the caramel or to touch the pie plate or cake pan where the caramel will be because it will burn you. I cannot stress this enough. USE MITTENS, THE CARAMEL IS VERY HOT AND CAN BURN YOU.

caramel

  • If you want to make some caramel decorations, you can heat up 1 1/2 cups of sugar and reserve some of the caramel to make decorations. In that case, pour about 2/3 of caramel in the flan mold. Then use a  metal spoon to spoon out some of the caramel into a parchment to create different shapes. You can also pour it over an inverted, greased bowl to create a basket like the one I made. The shapes don’t have to be perfect, they will look great either way!
  • You can use different molds for the flan. I used a small, round flan mold. But you can use a pie plate, a regular cake pan or ramekins affiliate link. The size of the mold will impact the baking time. 
  • Make sure to use a metal spoon for the caramel because the caramel is so hot it will melt a plastic spoon (caramel is serious business!).

Preheat: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. 

Mix: Pour 1 1/2 cups mashed pumpkin, the cans of evaporated and sweetened condensed milk into a blender. Add the five eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend on low for about 30 seconds. 

Strain: 

  • You need to strain the mix to make sure no eggshell or solids end up in your flan. The easier way to do this is to hold a strainer over the flan container and pour the mix over the strainer.

Bain-marie:  

  • Your flan container will cook in a water bath. Place your flan container (ramekins, pie plate or cake pan) in a large roasting pan with deep sides and fill the roasting pan with enough water to go halfway up the side of the container. 
  • For the ramekins, bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. You want the edges to be set and the middle to jiggle just a bit. The top should be a pale gold.
  • For the pie plate or cake pan, cook for about 1 hour or until the edges are set and the middle jiggles just a bit. 
  • The flan mold I used cooked for about 1 hour and 20 minutes, so you need to check it as it cooks. 

Chill: Remove the flan from the water bath and let it come to room temperature. Then chill it in the refrigerator overnight. To serve, run a paring knife around the edge to loosen and then invert in a cake plate. 


Notes

You really need about 13 ounces of pumpkin but the skin adds a bit of weight so you need to buy about a pound of pumpkin.

If you don’t want to make the fresh pumpkin mash, you can use canned pumpkin. Keep in mind that canned pumpkins will make the flan darker in color and the taste will be a bit more like pumpkin pie. 

The pan and the flan mold affiliate link will end up with hard caramel stuck to it. To clean it, just soak the pan and the sugar will dissolve. Then it’s a breeze to clean.

Keywords: pumpkin flan, cuban pumpkin flan, easy pumpkin flan recipe, pumpkin flan recipe, fall desserts, great pumpkin dessert, pumpkin dessert ideas

Easy shortcake recipe

Super Easy Shortcake Recipe With Strawberry, Guava and Maria Crackers

This easy shortcake recipe is my favorite! If you love strawberry shortcake, but don’t always want to make the shortbread part, this recipe was made for you. I used Maria Crackers that soften overnight, just like in an icebox cake. And the flavors! This shortcake recipe combines strawberries and guava, two flavors that work so well with whipped cream. It’s also very pretty and can be dressed up in so many ways! 

Strawberry Shortcake Icebox Cake

I almost called this recipe an icebox cake, because that’s pretty much what makes this Maria Crackers and whipped cream dessert work. But my main motivation was to make an easy shortcake recipe. So, I used the idea of an icebox cake and adapted it to make mini shortcakes topped with strawberries and guava marmalade. They look so pretty and remind me of a naked cake with the layers exposed. 

Easy shortcake recipe

Maria Cracker Layers

I grew up eating these sweet Maria Crackers that are a lot like a graham cracker, just thinner and little more delicate looking, which works for this recipe. Just like in an icebox cake made with chocolate wafers, the cookie softens when it’s layered with the whipped cream and becomes a thin cake. 

The flavor of the Maria Crackers is subtle and complements the guava and strawberries. In fact, Maria Crackers with cream cheese and guava is a popular Cuban snack. That’s why the flavors work so well in this recipe. I just swapped the cream cheese for whipped cream and added strawberries. 

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but I’ve been on a Maria Crackers desserts binge. This is my third Maria Cracker recipe this week! You’ve got to check out the Dulce de Leche S’mores and Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches

You should be able to find Maria Crackers where other crackers are sold in your local grocery store. If not, you can buy them online (affiliate link).

Guava Marmalade Enhances The Strawberries In this Cake

Strawberry shortcake is really good on its own. Whipped cream, cake and strawberries is such a classic! But the guava marmalade kicks it up a notch, as they say. Guava intensifies the strawberry flavors and adds a little sweetness. I don’t add too much sugar to the whipped cream, so the cake is not overly sweet. 

Guava marmalade is sold in cans, and you should be able to find it with the canned fruits or the international section of your local grocery store. If you can’t find it, you may be able to buy it online. You can also make it by melting guava paste with a splash of water. If you want to see how to do this, check out my Guava Bars Masa Real recipe

Easy shortcake recipe

Your Basic Strawberry Shortcake

I like to keep the base of the shortcake simple. Just Maria Crackers and whipped cream. It looks very pretty this way and that gives you the option to dress it with different fruits. Of course, strawberries are perfect on this cake. But you can also try it with mixed berries, mango, pineapple or nectarines. You can also use different compotes, like cherries.

There’s another reason why I like to keep the cake base simple. Because the cake has to sit overnight to give the Maria Crackers a chance to soften, you don’t want to add the fruits or the compotes too early. The fruit will lose its freshness and look a little wilted. So it’s best to let the cake soften before topping. 

Easy shortcake recipe

How To Keep The Layers Straight

The first time I made this dessert, I ended up with leaning shortcake towers. You need to gently press the layers together and make sure each layer is even so they will set in a straight little stack. Also, 3-4 layers is best to keep your stacks from leaning. This recipe yields either 5 shortcakes with 4 layers of whipped cream or 6 shortcakes with 3 layers of whipped cream.

My son taught me a simple technique for making these stacks with a cellophane cake collar. You cut the sleeves to fit the circumference of the Maria Cracker and tape the ends together. Then you layer the crackers and whipped cream in the collar and gently press down on each layer to make sure the whipped cream layer is level.

If you don’t have or want to buy cellophane cake sleeves, you can still accomplish a straight stack. You just need to gently press the stack and fill in the gaps by running your finger around the cracker and evening out the whipped cream. Make sure it’s level before you add the next layer. Also, end with a cracker layer… and don’t add whipped cream to the top layer. You’ll add the whipped cream and fruit at the end, so the top layer looks fresh and beautiful. 

Easy shortcake recipe

Three Strawberry Toppings

What I love about this easy shortcake recipe is that you can top the shortcake different ways. The main cake is just whipped cream and Maria Crackers. But you can dress up the strawberries in different ways, to suit your tastes. Here’s three ways to go with strawberries.

  • Fresh sliced strawberry on top of a whipped cream cloud with a drizzle of guava marmalade. This is simple to make and tastes so extra 😉
  • Add a sprinkle of sugar and a splash of Cointreau to sliced strawberries. Then, layer the berries on top of a little mound of whipped cream and drizzle the guava marmalade. I really like the flavor of the orange liqueur with the guava and strawberries!
  • Make a simple compote with strawberries, guava and Cointreau. I’m partial to the compote because the flavor burst is intense but remains balanced by the whipped cream. 

However you decide to top these cute little shortcakes, you’ll end up with a very elegant little shortcake that’s easy to make and super yummy! The perfect summer dessert for any occasion!

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Easy shortcake recipe

Super Easy Shortcake Recipe Made With Strawberry, Guava and Maria Crackers

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 56 1x
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: no bake
  • Cuisine: american

Description

This easy shortcake recipe is made with Maria Crackers, guava marmalade, and strawberries. The little shortcakes are elegant,  unique and delicious!


Ingredients

Scale

Strawberry and Guava Compote

  • 1 cup sliced strawberries
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons guava marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon Cointreau Liqueur
  • Pinch salt

Whipped Cream

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (vanilla paste is preferred)
  • Pinch salt

20 Maria Crackers

Kitchen tool or glassware that’s narrower than the Maria Cracker that you can use to gently press down the Maria Cracker (I used a stemmed wineglass). This is only if you’re using the cellophane cake collar affiliate link.


Instructions

Strawberry and Guava Compote

  • Slice off the caps and thinly slice the strawberries lengthwise.
  • Heat up a stainless steel or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Once heated, add the strawberries.
  • Add a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of sugar. Cook for about 2 minutes. The water released by the strawberries and the sugar will start to form a syrup.
  • Add the Cointreau and the guava marmalade. Cook until the syrup gets thick, another 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat and let it cool. If you want, you can place in the refrigerator to speed up the cooling. 

Whipped Cream

  • Place the bowl and the whip attachment in the freezer for a few minutes. This will make it easier to make the whipped cream.
  • Once it’s very cold, remove from the freezer and add the whipping cream. Start to beat on high and while it’s beating, add two tablespoons of granulated sugar and two teaspoons of vanilla paste. Beat until stiff peaks form, about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. 
  • You need the whipping cream to be stiff to hold the layers in place. If the cream is too soft, the layers will slide and the shortcake stack will be slanted. 

Shortcake Stack:

  • Take the cellophane cake collar affiliate link and roll it into a tube to the same circumference as the Maria Cracker. Tape the ends to form a cylinder. 
  • Place a Maria Cracker on the bottom of the cylinder, add two tablespoons of whipped cream. Place another Maria Cracker on top and use the wineglass or other narrow tool to gently and evenly press down on the cracker until there’s no air between the cracker layers and the whipped cream is evenly distributed.
  • If you don’t have the cake collar, you can gently press the layers evenly and run your finger around the edge to redistribute the whipped cream evenly. Fill in any gaps with a little extra whipped cream. 
  • Repeat twice if you want 3 layers of whipped cream. End with a Maria Cracker as the top layer. You can also add a fourth layer of whipped cream. In that case, the yield will be five cakes, instead of six. 
  • If you’re using the sleeve, you’ll remove the sleeve by  gently pressing down on the cracker stack (to keep the layers together, pull the plastic cake liner sleeve up and off). But be careful, if you press too hard, you’ll mess up the stack once the collar is off.
  • Place the stacks in a covered container in an even layer. Refrigerator 4 hours or overnight. 
  • Reserved the remaining whipped cream for serving. 

Just Before Serving

  • Add a tablespoon or two of whipped cream on top and add with the compote over the cream. Use a dessert spoon to make a slight indent in the whipping cream, so the compote remains mostly in place. It’s OK to have a little bit drizzling down the side. Actually, it’s even better that way.


Notes

This recipe yields 6 shortcakes with 3 layers of whipped cream. If you want to build a taller shortcake stack, the yield will be 5 shortcakes with 4 layers of whipped cream.

Topping Options: If you don’t want to make the compote, you can top the shortcakes with sliced strawberries and a drizzle of guava marmalade. Or, you can add a tablespoon or sugar and a tablespoon of Cointreau and mix. Then, top the cakes with whipped cream and the strawberries in the syrup. 

Garnish with extra strawberries and a mint leaf. Also, add some blueberries along with the strawberries for the 4th of July.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 6

Keywords: Strawberry icebox cake, Easy shortcake recipe, Icebox cake recipe, Strawberry shortcake icebox cake, Strawberry icebox cake recipe, strawberry shortcake, strawberry icebox cake

homemade s'mores

Best S’mores Recipe with Maria Crackers and Dulce de Leche

I love this s’mores recipe that combines Cuban favorites like Maria Crackers and dulce de leche. I love the idea of s’mores and the flavor combination of chocolate, marshmallow, and graham cracker. What’s not to love about that? But whenever I bite into a homemade s’more, the end result is too messy, with the melting chocolate and the thickness of the graham cracker. Plus the chocolate bar overpowers the marshmallow flavor. 

I knew I loved the marshmallow sandwich but wanted to find a combination that let the marshmallow flavor come through and was a little less messy to eat. So I turned to two Cuban treats I grew up eating… Maria Crackers and dulce de leche.

I love this s’mores recipe because the dulce de leche complements the marshmallow. The flavors blend so well together, it’s like a symphony in your mouth! So, so good!!

And it’s not messy, so I can eat one without getting it all over my face and clothes. So I can be a kid at heart and still act (somewhat) like a grownup 😉

homemade s'mores

Maria Crackers, My Childhood Favorite

These sweet crackers are a staple in most Cuban kitchens. It’s similar to a graham cracker, but it’s round, thinner, and a little prettier. So they make these homemade s’mores look a little dressed up! Growing up, I used to eat these crackers dipped in sweetened condensed milk, smeared with dulce de leche, or layered with guava and cream cheese. It’s perfect for s’mores! You can find these in the cracker aisle of your local supermarket. Or you can order them online (affiliate link)

What Is Dulce de Leche

This is a popular spread that’s eaten all over Latin America and the Spanish Caribbean islands. It’s made by cooking sweetened condensed milk until it turns brown and thickens to a spread. Oh, it’s so, so good! You can use it on cookies, cakes, crepes, ice cream, your fingers, you name it!

You can find dulce de leche in a can, right next to the sweetened condensed milk. The brand I use is Nestle La Lechera. You can also make your own, but that’s a bit time-consuming. You can make it by baking sweetened condensed milk in a water bath (bain-marie method) or by simmering a submerged, unopened can on the stovetop (you need to make sure the can remains submerged in water). Either way, it takes hours. But you don’t need to go through all that trouble. You can use a can of Nestle dulce de leche for these s’mores. 

homemade s'mores

Origin of S’mores

The first s’mores recipe showed up in the Tramping and Trailing with the Girl Scouts cookbook first published in 1927. But before that, marshmallow roasts had become a popular campfire treat. Also, two other marshmallow treats became popular just before the publishing of this cookbook. 

Mallomars, a graham cookie topped with a mound of marshmallow goodness and dipped in chocolate was introduced in 1913.  I loved these growing up (still do today, actually). Another childhood favorite, introduced in 1917, was the MoonPie. I loved this marshmallow cookie sandwich covered in chocolate. Both of these have all the flavors you find in a s’mores but the ratios are a little nicer and it’s less messy to eat. 

Although s’mores, Mallomars, and MoonPies are similar, the thing that makes s’mores so unique is that they are most often made over a campfire by kids, with adult supervision, of course. There’s just something so fun about roasting the marshmallows and making your own ooey-gooey treat! 

You can learn more about the history of this treat from this very interesting Nation Geo article.

homemade s'mores

From the Campfire to the Barbecue

This s’mores recipe can certainly be made by the campfire, but it’s also easy to make on the barbecue. It’s the perfect treat to share after a backyard barbecue! Just have the marshmallows and skewers handy and everyone can hang around the grill and make their own, or you can play grillmaster and make them yourself and pass them out. 

You can also make this s’mores recipe in advance and enjoy them after your backyard barbecue. If you let these s’mores sit for a while, the Maria Cracker softens and it becomes more like a MoonPie. That’s my favorite way to eat it! 

homemade s'mores

How To Make Homemade S’mores

To make these homemade s’mores, you’ll need Maria Crackers, dulce de leche, and marshmallows. 

Spread about a teaspoon of dulce de leche on each Maria Cracker. Make sure to spread the dulce de leche on the “bottom” side, so the pretty embossed side is visible in the finished s’mores. They look prettier that way. 

Then roast your marshmallow over the grill, turning it as you go so that all sides get browned. Once the marshmallow is soft and browned on all sides, press between the Maria Crackers.  

Try these for your next backyard barbecue and let me know how they turn out!

If you like this homemade s’mores recipe, you may also like my Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches with dulce de leche.

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homemade s'mores

Best S’mores Recipe with Maria Crackers and Dulce de Leche

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 1
  • Cook Time: 2
  • Total Time: 3 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: desserts
  • Method: roasting
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

This s’mores recipe combines Cuban favorites like dulce de leche and Maria Crackers for a uniquely Cuban treat!


Ingredients

Scale

16 teaspoons dulce de leche

16 Maria Crackers

8 large marshmallows


Instructions

Spread one teaspoon of dulce de leche on the “bottom” side of a Maria Cracker (you want the pretty embossed side to show). Roast marshmallow on a long skewer over a grill fire for about two minutes (times will vary). Slowly turn the skewer so the marshmallow roasts evenly on all sides. Place the marshmallow on a prepared cracker (dulce de leche side up). Place a second cracker (dulce de leche side down) on top and gently press down. Enjoy!


Notes

You can also make these on the stovetop over a burner set on high, using a long skewer. Slowly turn the skewer so it cooks evenly on all sides. Be careful not to spill the marshmallow on the burner. 

If you let these s’mores sit for a while, the cookie will soften and it will be more like a MoonPie!

Time shown is per s’more. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 8

Keywords: S’mores recipe, homemade s’mores, dulce de leche, maria crackers, easy s’mores, how to make s’mores

Homemade ice cream sandwich

The Best Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches With Dulce De Leche

These homemade ice cream sandwiches with dulce de leche are so easy and delicious! And they are fun to dress up for every occasion. Add red, white, and blue sprinkles for your 4th of July picnic. Or dredge them through your favorite ice cream toppings like chocolate sprinkles, mini chocolate chips, toasted coconut, or chopped almonds. The possibilities are endless. When I’m playing dress-up with these homemade ice cream sandwiches, it brings me back to my dress-up Barbie sessions when I was a little girl, no lie. (I was a huge Barbie fan?)

Cuban Flavors I Grew Up Loving

One of the things I love so much about these homemade ice cream sandwiches is that they have two of the flavors I grew up eating… dulce de leche and Maria crackers. 

If you’re not familiar with dulce de leche, it’s similar to caramel but it’s very spreadable and has an even richer taste than caramel. The main difference between dulce de leche and caramel is that dulce de leche is made with sweetened condensed milk, and caramel is made with sugar and water. You should easily find dulce de leche in your grocery store aisle right next to the sweetened condensed milk. The brand I used is Nestle.

To make dulce de leche at home, you bake the sweetened condensed milk in a water bath (bain-marie method) for several hours. Or you can simmer the can on the stovetop fully submerged in water. This process takes a few hours, and you need to keep adding hot water to keep the can fully submerged. But you don’t have to go through all that trouble for this recipe. You can use the store-bought dulce de leche, it’s just as good. 

Maria crackers are the Cuban version of graham crackers. I would eat these crackers spread with dulce de leche or with cream cheese and guava. I like them more than graham crackers because they are thinner and look prettier for desserts. Really, the main reason is that I grew up eating them. But they do look pretty when you use them in these homemade ice cream sandwiches. 

summer dessert

Dulce de Leche and Vanilla Ice Cream Are So Good Together

I also grew up eating ice cream sandwiches made with vanilla ice cream and chocolate wafers, I’m sure we all did. As much as I love that flavor combo, I find the dulce leche and vanilla combo even better! This flavor combo is more subtle than chocolate and vanilla, and builds as you eat it. 

I especially love these little homemade ice cream sandwiches rolled in toasted coconut. They remind me of my favorite cookie, alfajores. These are dulce de leche sandwich cookies made with soft vanilla cookies and dulce de leche filling rolled in crushed toasted coconut. I’m so gonna make these for you one day! But until then, you can check out this New York Times recipe for alfajores, if you’re curious.

Homemade ice cream sandwiches

Easy Ice Cream Sandwich Dessert for Lazy Summers

My little sandwiches are so easy to make, they have only four ingredients and take just a few minutes to prep. But you will want to let them set for a few hours before serving. 

Here’s what you need:

Vanilla Ice Cream – I like using French vanilla because it complements the dulce de leche best. Also, make sure you get one that softens without melting too much. I tried making these homemade ice cream sandwiches with Blue Bell ice cream and as much as I loved the taste, I found the ice cream hard to work with. It seemed to melt without softening. So, the sandwiches would end up looking uneven. My favorite brand to use is Publix premium ice cream, but Breyers would also work. 

Dulce de Leche – this is sweetened condensed milk that’s been cooked until it gets golden brown and spreadable. A little goes a long way, so go easy. I use about two teaspoons per ice cream sandwich. But you can add more or less to taste. 

Maria Crackers – you’ll find these in your grocery store in the aisle with the crackers. If you can’t find these crackers, you can use graham crackers cut in half. 

Sprinkles, Toasted Coconut, or Chopped Almonds – the topping you use will depend on the occasion. I like using the toasted coconut or toasted almonds because it’s so good together and looks elegant, like a grown-up dessert. But it’s also fun to use sprinkles and would also have more kid appeal. You can also add sprinkles to mark a holiday, like red and pink for Valentine’s Day, red, white, and blue for Memorial Day and the 4th of July, or Orange and Yellow for the fall. 

Assembling These Ice Cream Sandwiches 

I have more detailed instructions in the recipe below. But here’s a quick rundown.

You need to work quickly because ice cream melts fast and you don’t want a cold mess on your hands. So, prep the sprinkles and have everything handy before you take the ice cream out of the freezer. Also, have a ready container you can add the sandwiches to so you can put them back in the freezer. 

Here we go:

  • Have your sprinkles, almonds, or toasted coconut ready in a bowl. 
  • Take the ice cream out and let it soften as you prep the Maria crackers.
  • Spread about one teaspoon of dulce de leche on each Maria cracker, on the “bottom” side. You want the pretty embossed side to show in your finished ice cream sandwich. 
  • Once all the cookies are prepped, add one scoop to half the crackers and then place a second cracker on top and gently press down.
  • Roll the edges in the sprinkles or other topping.
  • Place these back in the freezer to let them set. This will allow the Maria cracker to soften and the ice cream to harden so it’s not a melting mess when you eat it. Although, a melty mess is not so bad if you’re a kid and there’s a water hose nearby!

Have fun making these little homemade ice cream sandwiches and let me know how they turn out in the comments below. 

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Homemade Ice Cream Sandwiches With Dulce De Leche

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 25
  • Total Time: 25 minutes
  • Yield: 12 1x
  • Category: dessert
  • Method: no bake
  • Cuisine: cuban

Description

These homemade ice cream sandwiches with dulce de leche are so easy and delicious! And they are fun to dress up for every occasion! Add your favorite sprinkles for garnish or use toasted coconuts or chopped almonds.


Ingredients

Scale

A gallon of French vanilla ice cream (you’ll need about 3 cups of ice cream for 12 ice cream sandwiches)

1 can dulce de leche (you’ll need about a half cup)

24 Maria crackers

1 cup of sprinkles, almonds, or shredded coconut for garnish


Instructions

Prep the garnish:

You want to have a bowl of these ready before you start since the ice cream melts so fast. So, toast and chop the almonds. Or, toast the coconut and crush them a bit to make smaller pieces. If you’re using sprinkles, just pour these into a small bowl. 

Make sure you have a container already set up to store the ice cream sandwiches. The first time I made these, I had to scramble to find something while my babies were melting!

Prep the crackers:

Take the ice cream out so it starts to soften. You can’t press it down if it’s too hard.

Spread about one teaspoon of dulce de leche on each Maria cracker, on the “bottom” side. You want the pretty embossed side to show in your finished ice cream sandwich. 

Assemble the ice cream sandwich:

Once all the cookies are prepped, add one scoop to half the crackers and then place a second cracker on top and gently press down. Then roll the ice cream sandwiches in the sprinkles or other garnish. If you find that they are melting too fast. Place in the freezer to set and then roll in the sprinkles after the ice cream has set.


Notes

A gallon of ice cream and a can of dulce de leche will yield way more than 12 ice cream sandwiches, so feel free to make more. Just make sure you increase the amount of Maria crackers and sprinkles you buy to accommodate a larger quantity.  

You’ll find the assembly to be a bit of a messy process and the ice cream sandwiches may not look perfectly even. This is the beauty of the sprinkles. They cover a multitude of mistakes! Once you garnish, they’ll look pretty, and any imperfections will be unnoticeable. 

I used a medium ice cream scoop that holds just a little less than a quarter cup of ice cream. If you use a bigger scoop the ratio of ice cream to cookie will be off (unless that’s how you like it). 

You can mix and match the garnish and make different ones to please your crowd. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Keywords: Ice cream sandwich dessert recipe, Ice cream sandwich recipe, Ice cream sandwich dessert, Homemade ice cream sandwiches, dulce de leche, summer desserts, ice cream desserts, easy summer desserts

caramel

Cuban Flan Is The Best Cuban Dessert!

Cuban flan is, hands-down, the most popular Cuban dessert, and for a good reason. It’s a luscious, creamy, special-occasion-worthy dessert that is super easy to make. This is the dessert that’s on every Cuban table on Christmas Eve (Noche Buena). 

This is my Cuban mom’s flan recipe, and she makes it often. With my mom (aka the Bean Train), if you’re sick you get chicken noodle soup, and for all other occasions, you get a Cuban flan. If it’s your birthday, you get a flan, if it’s your anniversary, you get a flan, and if she’s coming over for dinner… another flan! All her neighbors get this Cuban dessert for Christmas, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s made her pretty popular on her block!

cuban flan

What Is Flan?

If you’re not familiar with it, caramel flan is a creamy dessert made with two types of milk, eggs, and vanilla and has a delicious caramel sauce made with sugar. It’s like Crème Brulee but it does not have the hard sugar crust on top. The caramel is baked with the dessert and becomes this rich sauce that bathes the creamy dessert in delicious sweetness. It’s so, so good, I can’t wait for you to try it! Of all the Cuban recipes you can make, this Cuban flan recipe is the one to try first!!

Cuban Flan Recipe

As I said, this caramel flan is super easy to make. You don’t need to mix anything and there are only five flan ingredients in this Cuban flan recipe: sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. You can mix these ingredients by hand or just throw them in the blender for 30 seconds. 

I like to use vanilla paste because I think it gives your baked goods a richer taste, but regular vanilla is fine. When you use the paste, you get more of the vanilla beans in the dish. You’ll notice it in the sliced flan. Sometimes it may leave a mark on the surface of the cake as the beans settle to the bottom of the flan and then when you invert it, you’ll see it. I usually garnish my flan with some raspberries so it’s not noticeable, but you can see it a bit in the sliced flan photo in this post.

The caramel is also super easy to make, as it’s just melted sugar. Some folks like to mix water and sugar and heat this on medium heat until the caramel forms. But I find this method takes longer and you must be careful to not overcook the caramel. It’s much easier to melt a cup of sugar over medium high heat. Once all the sugar has melted, you’re at the right caramel color and it takes a fraction of the time. 

Two things you need to know about caramel… don’t stir the caramel in the pan. That will keep it from forming. You just shake the pan a little to swirl the sugar as it’s melting. Also, the caramel is SUPER HOT and can burn you if you’re not careful. Don’t use plastic spoons or other plastic utensils near it and be SUPER CAREFUL when pouring it in the mold. 

caramel flan

How To Make Cuban Flan

Caramel flan cooks in the oven in a water bath called a bain-marie. You can pour the flan in half-cup ramekins for individual portions or bake in a pie plate or cake pan. You need to make sure to pour enough water to reach about halfway up the sides of the flan mold. 

Baking times will vary depending on the container you use. Ramekins take under 30 minutes the pie plate or cake pan make take you around an hour of baking time.  

Once they’re done, let them cool at room temperature and then place them in the fridge for four hours or overnight. Run a sharp knife around the edge to invert it on a plate and give it a light tap.

If you baked it in one pie plate or cake pan, the weight of the flan will make it easy to unmold. If you used the individual ramekins, you need to have a little patience or gently coax it out with the edge of the knife, but be careful not to mar the smooth surface of the flan. 

Once you’ve unmolded the flan, pour the rest of the caramel sauce over the flan and garnish it with a few raspberries and a mint leaf. 

cuban flan

Instant Pot Flan

You can also cook the flan in the Instant Pot. You’re still using the bain-marie method, though. To be able to cook it in the Instant Pot you’ll need a flan mold with a lid called a “flanera.” You can find these at many supermarkets. I bought mine at my local CVS pharmacy that sells some Latin cookware (yea, I know, only in Miami!). You can also find these on Amazon.

Instant pot flan cooks in just 25 minutes, but there’s the time it takes for the Instant Pot to develop pressure and then you need to give a few minutes to release the steam before you open it.

The flan mold creates a nice, tall cake. I personally like this method because it’s so foolproof. You don’t have to check the flans for doneness. This also gives you better portion control so you can cut smaller slices if you have more people. 

But I do love the way the individual caramel flans look, they are so cute!

Try this Cuban flan recipe the next time you’re thinking of baking a cake for a special occasion. Or make it just because you want to indulge. You can’t beat how easy this Cuban recipe is to make!

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Cuban flan recipe

Caramel Flan – Traditional Cuban Dessert

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 20
  • Cook Time: 60
  • Total Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Baking or Instant Pot
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

This caramel flan is a very traditional Cuban dessert. It’s a luscious, creamy special-occasion-worthy dessert that is super easy to do. What makes this dessert so awesome is the fantastic one-ingredient caramel sauce. And this Cuban flan recipe could not be easier to make!

 


Ingredients

Scale

1 can sweetened condensed milk (14 ounces)

1 can evaporated milk (12 ounces)

5 eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

1 cup sugar


Instructions

CARAMEL

Make the caramel:

  • Place 1 cup of sugar in a medium saucepan on medium heat. Cook without stirring until sugar melts and has a deep amber color. This should take about 12-14 minutes. Be very, very careful with the flan as it’s SUPER HOT and can burn you. 
  • For Ramekins: Use a regular soup spoon and divide the caramel equally into 8 half-cup ramekins.  Do not use a plastic measuring spoon for this because it will melt. Swirl the caramel around the ramekin to coat the sides just a bit. 
  • For pie plate, cake pan or flan mold: Pour all the caramel and swirl the pan a bit to get it up the sides a little. You need to work fast because the caramel hardens quickly, BUT be very careful not to spill the caramel or to touch the pie plate or cake pan where the caramel will be because it will burn you. I cannot stress this enough.
  • Once the caramel has hardened, brush a little vegetable oil on the exposed areas that don’t have caramel. This should make it easier to unmold the flan later. 

Preheat: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, if you’re baking. 

Mix: Pour the cans of milk into a blender. Add the five eggs, a teaspoon of vanilla and a pinch of salt. Blend on low for about 30 seconds. 

Bain-marie: Place your flan container (ramekins, pie plate or cake pan) in a large roasting pan with deep sides and fill the pan with water up to halfway mark on the container. If you’re using the Instant Pot, you’ll add the water last. 

Strain: 

  • Strain the mix to make sure no eggshell or solids end up in your flan. 
  • For the ramekins, strain the flan into a 4-cup measuring bowl or pitcher. This will make it easier to pour into the ramekins. Otherwise, you can ladle the mix up to 4-ounce measurement or just up to the indent area. You can see it in the photo above in the post. 
  • If you’re using a pie plate, cake pan or flan mold, you can strain the mix right into the container. 

Bake:

  • Baking times differ based on the container that you use. 
  • For the ramekins, bake at 325 degrees for 25-30 minutes. You want the edges to be set and the middle to jiggle just a bit. The top should be a pale gold.
  • For the pie plate or cake pan, cook for about 1 hour or until the edges are set and the middle jiggles just a bit. 

Instant Pot affiliate link or Pressure Cooker:

For the Instant Pot, you’ll need to use a special flan mold affiliate link. Place the covered flan mold in the pot and add water until it’s half way up the sides of the flan mold. Set the timer to 25 minutes at normal pressure. Once done, let it vent on its own. If you’re not going to let it vent on its own, cook for 30 minutes. 

Cool: Let the flan come to room temperature and then cool in the refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Unmold:

  • Run a sharp paring knife around the edge and then invert the container onto a plate. The large molds unmold easily because the weight of the flan helps. 
  • For the ramekins, it’s a little more difficult. I usually  place the ramekins in a pan with warm water for 30 seconds to make it easier to unmold. Sometimes you need to nudge it a little with the knife, but be careful not to leave a mark on the flan. They look so pretty when they’re unmolded. 
  • Pour the rest of the caramel sauce over the flan on the plate. 

Garnish (optional): Top the flan with a few raspberries. I also use a mint leaf on the individual portions. 

 



Notes

The caramel will baked onto the flan mold affiliate link or ramekins affiliate link and it looks impossible to remove. But just soak the container in water and the sugar will dissolve. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: slice

Keywords: caramel flan, Cuban dessert, flan, flan recipe, easy flan recipe, Instant Pot flan, flan ingredients, Cuban flan, Cuban flan recipe

guava bars

Cuban Guava Bars (Masa Real) Are Easy and Crazy Good

If you walk into any Cuban bakery in Miami, you’ll find these guava bar cookies called Masa Real prominently displayed. They are so tempting with their rich stripe of guava jam sandwiched between sweet buttery pastry. Masa Real (mah-sa-ree-al) means royal dough and can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. But to be honest, the sweet version is the most popular. 

Guava, known as guayaba (gwah – yah – bah), is synonymous with guava paste to me because that’s the only way I’ve ever eaten guava. But the fruit is grown locally in Miami, and it’s about the size and shape of a very fat pear. You can buy it at most local fruit stands and supermarkets. I actually went out and bought some before I started writing this blog. The fruit is pretty green right now, but as soon as it’s ripe, I’m giving it a try. (You guys are such a good influence on me!)

Best Way To Eat Guava Paste

Guava paste is sold in cans or bars and can be cut and enjoyed with a slice of gouda cheese or on top of Cuban crackers smeared with cream cheese. It’s basically Cuban jam. In fact, cream cheese and guava paste is our version of PBJ. But by far, one of the best ways to eat it is in Masa Real. (Another famous guava pastry is Cuban pastelitos, but we’ll save that for another post!)

masa real

How I Came Across This Guava Bar Recipe

This recipe is not like any of the masa real recipes I’ve found online. It’s really super easy. You don’t need a mixer or a rolling pin to make these guava bars. 

I got this recipe at least 30 years ago from Felix, my grandmother’s long-time boyfriend. He found it in a Latin newspaper, in a section titled El Hombre en la Cocina (The Man in the Kitchen). Back then, it was unusual for a Latin man to cook, so maybe that’s why they made this recipe so easy? 

Whatever the reason, I’m glad I found it. My recipe is dog-eared, torn, and butter stained. I love recipes when they get that way! It shows it’s a favorite and so worth sharing it with you. 

This recipe is also special because it’s one of the Cuban dishes I make that Mami doesn’t. So, she likes it when I bring her some fresh baked masa real (the Bean Train working in reverse!).  

How To Make Masa Real de Guayaba

These guava bars are easy to make, and you don’t even need a mixer. In fact, you mix it as little as possible so you don’t overwork the dough. You melt the butter and then add a crumbly mixture of flour, sugar, eggs, and baking powder. Then mix lightly with a fork. 

I’m going to warn you that this recipe uses a ridiculous amount of butter. So much so that some of the butter will just sit on top of the dough. Don’t worry. The butter will incorporate into the dough as it bakes. It will taste perfect, not oily at all. 

Once the dough is ready, you divide it in half and smooth half onto a 9×13 pan and then layer the sliced guava paste on top and then add the rest of the dough and smooth it down. That’s it!

I know I probably scared you by saying that it has a ridiculous amount of butter (3 sticks, in fact). But the taste is really rich, so a little goes a long way. I cut the masa real into 20 pieces to give you the traditional Cuban bakery size. But I usually cut that size in half when I’m serving, so you can get 40 squares of masa real from one recipe. 

guava desserts

Some Tasty Changes To The Original Recipe  

While I love the original guava bar recipe, my kids wanted to make some changes. So lately, I’ve been melting the guava paste, so it’s a spreadable jam. It’s a little more work but not too crazy. And my kids like it better that way. The guava layer is not as thick, and the buttery pastry is moister because it mixes in with the guava jam. 

Instead of layering the slices of guava paste, you pour the guava jam over the first half of the dough. With this method, you need to cool the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes before adding the guava jam. Otherwise, you’ll get a hot mess. Which I’ve done before, and it’s not bad at all, but not as pretty.

Another change I’ve made recently is adding a little strawberry jam and salt to the melted guava. It’s soo good that way! I got this idea from my son, who’s been making guava strawberry jam which he uses for French toast and for cocktails (I’ll share those another time!).

Not sure which version of the recipe to make? Take the easy way out and make the original recipe with the sliced guava paste. Either way, you’re gonna love these guava bars!

bean train food for thought

Masa Real reminds me of Felix, my mother’s common-law husband of more than 30 years. He really liked to bake and was nice enough to share this recipe with me. While I don’t have many memories of Felix, he tended to keep to himself, I feel it’s important that I tell you a little bit about him today. 

To be honest, I didn’t have much of a connection with him. He was not very social, and we didn’t have much in common. He started seeing my grandmother when I was ten years old, and his attitude towards kids was that they should be seen and not heard. That attitude didn’t seem to change much when I grew up. It’s not that he was unfriendly. He just didn’t really interact that much with people. 

And lately, it’s really made me wonder if he felt seen or heard himself. He’d studied agricultural engineering in Cuba because that’s what his father wanted him to do, but he really didn’t like it. When he emigrated to the US, he never tried to pursue his degree. Instead, he took on odd jobs he didn’t seem to like much. 

But late in life, he finally got a job he really liked, working at the Publix Bakery. He fried the donuts and croquettes and baked the cakes and cookies.

Thinking back on his life now, he can teach us two things. 

Connect with your passion – Find your purpose, work diligently to discover it. Your purpose is that thing you do that makes you feel alive and connected with the world. It may not be the job you do, but the ways you get to be creative and joyful. I have to wonder what Felix’s life would have been like if he had discovered what he liked to do earlier in life. It seemed like life happened to him. I can relate because too often I’ve let life happen to me too. That’s why Bean Train is so important to me. It gives me a chance to do some of the things I love to do. 

Connect with your people – Felix was pretty solitary. He didn’t really connect with my mom or me. When he moved to Miami from New York, he didn’t stay in touch with his older siblings or his nieces and nephews. Not having had any children of his own, I wonder if there’s anyone who will remember Felix.

But this recipe reminds me of him. That’s one of the things I like about family recipes. They keep memories alive. Felix can live on in this recipe. I think he would have liked that, to be seen and heard through his favorite cookie.  

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Cuban Guava Bars

Cuban Guava Bars (Masa Real) Are Easy and Crazy Good

  • Author: Sandi Abbott
  • Prep Time: 45
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Yield: 40 squares 1x
  • Category: Desserts
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: Cuban

Description

These guava bar cookies, known as Masa Real, are so rich and delicious! And super easy to make. Buttery pastry and rich guava jam are layered together to make this super popular Cuban dessert. These rich bar cookies are a hit for bake sales, potlucks, and teacher gifts. 


Ingredients

Scale

3 sticks butter

14oz package of guava paste affiliate link (I like to use Conchita brand)

2 tablespoons strawberry jam (optional – see note)

Dash salt

4 cups all-purpose flour

1 ½ cups white sugar

2 tablespoons baking powder

4 eggs


Instructions

Guava Bar Recipe Version 1: (see note below)

guava paste

Guava Jam:

  1. Cut the guava paste affiliate link into ½ inch cubes.
  2. Bring ½ cup water to boil over high heat and add the guava cubes.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and let the guava melt, stirring occasionally.
  4. While it melts, add 2 tablespoons of strawberry jam and a dash of salt.
  5. Once all the cubes have melted, remove from the heat and pour into a glass bowl.
  6. Let it cool to room temperature before using. 

Guava Jam

Dough:

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and a dash of salt until combined. 
  2. Beat four eggs in a separate bowl until combined and then add to the dry ingredients. 
  3. Mix together to form a crumbly meal. 
  4. Melt the butter and shortening in a pot over medium heat. 
  5. Once melted, add the dry ingredients to the pot and gently mix with a fork until all the dough is wet. It will look like you’ve added too much butter, but it’s OK. 

masa real dough

Shaping and cooling the dough:

  1. Spray a 9×13 pan with butter spray.
  2. Add half the dough to the pan and use a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to flatten and smooth the dough to cover the full pan.
  3. Cut a piece of parchment paper or wax paper a little bigger than the pan.
  4. Add the other half of the dough to the paper and spread out in a rectangular shape similar to the pan.
  5. Place both pieces of dough in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. This will make it easier to layer.

I do not suggest placing the second dough on top of the first one as it will stick to the paper when you separate them. While the dough cools, preheat the oven to 350. 

masa real dough

Layering: Take the two layers of dough out of the refrigerator. Spread the guava jam over the cooled dough in the pan. Place the second layer on top. The top layer may not fit perfectly, that’s OK. Once it bakes, it will look just fine. 

Bake: Once the oven is preheated, bake for 30 minutes until golden and a knife inserted in the top layer comes out clean. 

Guava Bar Recipe Version 2: (see note below)

If you don’t want to melt the guava and cool the layers, you can follow the original recipe’s instructions. In that case, you won’t need the strawberry jam. 

Guava Paste: Cut the guava paste into thin slices no more than 1/4 of an inch.

Dough (this step is the same):

  1. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, and a dash of salt until combined.
  2. Beat four eggs in a separate bowl until combined and then add to the dry ingredients.
  3. Mix together to form a crumbly meal.
  4. Melt the butter and shortening in a pot over medium heat.
  5. Once melted, add the dry ingredients to the pot and gently mix with a fork until all the dough is wet. It will look like you’ve added too much butter, but it’s OK. 

Making Masa Real

Layering: 

  1. Spray a 9×13 pan with butter spray. 
  2. Add half the dough to the pan and use a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to flatten and smooth the dough to cover the entire pan. 
  3. Place the guava paste slices on top of the dough, covering all the surfaces. 
  4. Add the rest of the dough and use a piece of parchment paper or wax paper to flatten and smooth. 
  5. Bake for 30 minutes until golden and a knife inserted in the top layer comes out clean. 

masa real



Notes

Strawberry Jam: You don’t need this if you’re making the easier version.

I’ve given you two versions of the recipe.

Version 1: The main difference is that in the first one you make a guava jam and spread. The jam mixes more with the dough and it makes the bar cookie more moist. My kids love it this way.

Version 2: This version is easier. All you need to do is cut the guava paste and layer it with the dough. This gives you a thick stripe of guava and a more intense guava flavor. However if you don’t cut the guava paste evenly you will have some ares with less guava. 

Not sure which version of the recipe to make? Take the easy way out and make the original recipe with the sliced guava paste affiliate link. Either way, you’re gonna love these guava bars!

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 square

Keywords: guava bars, Cuban guava bars, masa real, masa real de guayana, guava desserts, guava paste, guava jam

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